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BONTOC EULOGY: A TRIBUTE TO REMEMBER

Marlon B. Espedillon
Ang hindi marunong lumingon sa pinanggalingan ay hindi makararating sa
patutunguhan.
Bontoc Eulogy is a 1995 film, directed by Marlon Fuentes, which immortalizes
a tribute to alleiate the obliion on one of the early forms of human e!"loitation in the
history of our ancestors, which ha""ened more than a century ago# $arrated by an
unnamed character in the film, the director e!"oses the unfortunate and miserable
condition of seeral ethnic grou"s from the %hili""ines, who were showcased in the &t#
'ouis (orld Fair in 19)*, with the narrator+s search for his lost grandfather and
amor"hous cultural identity to define what is meant by the ,agalog "roerb Ang hindi
marunong lumingon sa pinanggalingan ay hindi makararating sa patutunguhan# (ith
the narrator+s fictional story, the director intends to engage the iewers in the film by
showing them the different interwoen footages of the ethnic grou"s#
,he film unmas-s seeral issues .. forced migration, deconte!tualization of
cultural "ractices, and human e!"loitation .. which configure how the minority grou"s
were marginalized# ,he forced /e!odus+, shown in the film, mar-s the sudden change in
the enironment, which debilitated the ways of ada"tation of the dis"laced minority
grou"s# ,he migration e!"osed the minority grou"s+ ulnerability as they struggled to
e!ist in a com"letely new and hostile enironment# ,his was aggraated by
deconte!tualization of their cultural "ractices as they were e!hibited to "erform their
rituals out of the cultural conte!t in the international e!"osition# 0is"laced and dis"layed,
the ethnic grou"s in the ideo footages are deliberately /othered+ as sub1ects in one of the
worst forms of human e!"loitation for the last century, sub1ugated by the (estern "eo"les
in their dis"lay of su"eriority in the entire world#
,he film is indeed a tribute that commemorates the im"oerished condition, not
only of oer 1))) minorities e!hibited in the 19)* (orld Fair, but also of eery
marginalized ethnic grou" in the country or in the world, who e!"eriences the "resence of
shar" /cultural borders+ or, worse, racism# ,hough the fictional story of the narrator+s
search for his lost grandfather and his cultural identity, as he seemingly 1u!ta"oses
between his generation and his children+s generation, a""arently atro"hies the alue of
the documentary film, the general theme .. dehumanization of the ethnic grou"s .. still
"reails to send the message of ho"e from the "ast to the "resent generations#
2n watching the film at "resent time, 3 can+t hel" com"aring the de"lorable
condition of the ethnic grou"s in the (orld Fair in 19)* and the disenchanting "osition
of the minority grou"s in the country more than a century later# 4ow is the international
e!"osition different from some festials 5e#g Ati-atihan6 celebrated in the country where
the ethnicity of some minority grou"s is reduced to being an e!hibit to "romote tourism7
4ow is the forced migration different from the loss of ancestral domain due to industrial
deelo"ment7 3 don+t really see any significant difference at all# $ow, this tells me how
we re"roduce the celebration of (estern dominance in our culture as we sustain their
su"eriority oer our own race# 3s this a manifestation of how neglectful we hae been to
be obliious of what ha""ened in the "ast7
,he film does not only e!"ose me to the grim of the /"ast+ but also reminds me
that, once in an international e!"osition, hundreds of lies were ta-en away 1ust to ma-e
others+ lies meaningful# ,his ma-es the film more than 1ust a /film+ as it iifies the
recollections on how the adancement of /ciilization+ can be deleterious to /others+ or
how it can mean otherwise# 3t also reminds me that by 1ust watching the film and doing
nothing 3 may be contributing to "reclude the cause of /humanity+ that should signify any
ciilization# 2n account of this, it reminds me of my res"onsibility as an agent of
education .. as a teacher .. to "ass on to my students, as legacy, the story of as"iration,
sacrifices, and death of the /others+, who got e!"loited and e!ecuted in the 19)* &t# 'ouis
(orld Fair, with the ho"e to ma-e them identify themseles with eery ethnic grou" in
the country and realize the essence of the "roerb Ang hindi marunong lumingon sa
pinanggalingan ay hindi makararating sa patutunguhan.

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